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Posts tagged ‘Panasonic’


Panasonic’s new prototype TV can hide in plain sight

Panasonic showed off an early transparent TV before, but the company has now improved the image quality to the extent that the idea of a TV built into your furniture’s glass panes is not only possible — it’s right here. The OLED screen is made of a fine mesh, embedded into the glass sliding door. While the TV image is visible even with the backlighting on, once it’s dimmed, the image is clear and bright enough to be almost indistinguishable from existing TVs. (The last model was a bit too dim, and required undershelf lighting to boost the image.) Turn the TV panel off, however, and it’s hard to tell it was ever there to begin with. Want one? Panasonic’s spokesperson says the TV is likely to stay in development for a few years longer: at least another three years.


Panasonic’s concept mirror finds your flaws and prints makeup to fix

Panasonic has discovered a profitable new business in the last few years: beauty tech products. Facial moisturizing tech, hair dryers and very relaxing eye masks that I may have tested out (multiple times) at my local Japanese tech store. This time, the tech giant pitched its latest beauty concept as an “interactive mirror.” Same old story, right? Not quite. It says it could be a makeup-applying “revolution” that scans your face, decides what needs a little cosmetic help, and prints a combination pad of foundation and concealer to fix it up, with little to no makeup wasted. It sounds like a nonsensically vague future concept, but Panasonic thinks otherwise, and has the demo to prove it.

Well, there are some caveats. Buried away into Panasonic’s concept series at CEATEC 2016, the company had its face and skin-analyzing smart mirror (as we saw back in January) setup to detect skin blemishes, (sun damage, spots, wrinkles and more) then deliver that data to a makeup printer that spits out a sliver of makeup (matched to your own skin tone) in roughly two minutes. It’s not instant, and at this early development stage, the company says the printed patches also take roughly a day to dry and settle before it’s meant to be applied to a person’s face.

Once that’s happened — the company had ‘extra’ pre-printed patches aside for testing — the makeup layer is placed on a cheekbone mask sprayed with water and gently smoothed out. The user (or their makeup artist?), then lightly presses this onto their cheek, leaving the thin layer of makeup behind. A few moments later, the water has evaporated and you’re left with a kind-of temporary tattoo. That’s apparently what it feels like at first, but it becomes more natural as you get used to wearing it. Despite being offered the chance to test it out, with three-day scruff (and a lack of experience with the finer points of makeup), I got Panasonic employee Kaitlyn to test in my stead.

However, I did get to test out the skin analysis component. Computers can be cruel. Compared to Kaitlyn, the mirror singled out my open pores and crows’ feet although I apparently don’t have much UV damage or aging spots. So that’s good. I guess?

A video posted by Mat (@thtmtsmth) on Oct 3, 2016 at 12:46am PDT

The product is still in the prototype phase, but Panasonic is hoping to keep its Beauty division at the cutting edge. A spokeswoman explained that the machine could be used to cover scar tissue and even tattoos. The makeup printer is currently only able to conceal skin blemishes, but the company is looking into wrinkle reduction and more. Get ready to feel robot-level pretty.


At Photokina, camera makers carve out their territory

Let this sink in: Since 2010, digital camera sales have fallen from around 120 million to 40 million units. The main reason, obviously, is that consumers can fulfill most of their photography needs with a smartphone. That leaves manufacturers a small but profitable high-end market. Judging by what I saw at Photokina, however, Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Olympus, Sony and Panasonic are all targeting that niche in different ways.

Canon is still popular, judging by the throngs clamoring to try the new 5D Mark VI (and our Twitter poll). The company just released the EOS M5, easily its best mirrorless camera to date. The model has some nice features, like 7 fps shooting and a fast Dual Pixel contrast autofocus system that tracks moving subjects for video. The fact that it jumped into the mirrorless game late is starting to show, though.

It’s lagging behind competitors, especially considering the $980 price (body only). For the same sum, you can get a Sony A6300 mirrorless camera with a similar sensor that shoots 4K instead of 1080p and has better low-light capability and superior (11 fps) burst shooting.

Canon’s bread and butter is still DSLRs, but as mirrorless cameras improve, folks are going to switch. Personally, I don’t want to lug around my Canon DSLR anymore when a Fujifilm or Sony model is just as good and weighs half as much. In other words, Canon’s next mirrorless model had better be at least on par with its rivals.

Nikon is doing even less than Canon in mirrorless as rumors swirl around the future of the Nikon 1 series. While still leaning on its pro DSLR market, the Japanese company is now banking on a whole new category: virtual reality. Nikon announced two new KeyMission action cameras (the 270 and 85), plus an October release date and $500 price for its impressive-looking 4K KeyMission 360 camera. Though known for its optics, Nikon has nailed the stitching software on the KeyMission 360, judging by a (very short) demo.

It is again targeting its bread-and-butter pro market by pitching the KeyMission 360 to DSLR photographers as a way to capture VR video during photo shoots. (It even has a hot-shoe mount that lets you stick it on top of a D700 or D5.) But this is a side project for Nikon right now; like Canon, it really needs to make headway in the mirrorless market.

Is Olympus held back by its smallish Micro Four Thirds sensor, compared with Sony’s, Canon’s and Fujifilm’s APS-C models? The new OMD-EM1 Mark II flagship will test that theory. It seemingly has everything a pro photographer would need: 18 fps shooting speed with AF and exposure tracking (up to 60 fps with AF locked), 4K video, a stellar EVF and a body that’s as lovely to hold as it is to look at. The company also revealed a new 25mm f/1.2 25mm lens, allowing the bokeh and light sensitivity that pros expect.

Judging by several conversations with colleagues at the show, however, many won’t even consider it with that sensor. We don’t know the price yet, but if the OMD-EM1 II is the same as the first model ($1,500), buyers will be more tempted by, say, Sony’s $1,600 (body only) Alpha A7 II, which has a full-frame sensor — twice as large as that on the Olympus model.

Panasonic again emphasized video at Photokina. The three cameras it introduced at the show all feature 4K, and the freshly unveiled GH5 (due in 2017) adds internal 10-bit, 4:2:2, 60 fps recording, making it a truly professional-grade product. Even the photo features are video-oriented. Panasonic touted “4K Photo” and upcoming “6K Photo” as features that let you take 18-megapixel stills at 30 fps. That way, photographers can choose the perfect image from an action sequence.

Like Olympus, Panasonic is hindered by the Micro Four Thirds format. The small sensor is an advantage for video, though, striking the right balance between too much and too little depth of field. However, other competitors, particularly Sony, could step on Panasonic’s turf by including 10-bit or even 6K video in future models.

Speaking of the sort, Sony not only makes the sensors used by most other manufacturers but has an excellent, well-rounded camera lineup of its own. Its latest mirrorless E-mount models, in both the APS-C and full-frame categories, have generally received raves. At Photokina, it reminded us that it also makes Alpha mount SLT (single-lens translucent mirror) by launching the flagship Alpha A99 II.

The A99 II has the specs you’d expect from a $3,600 DSLR. That includes a high-res 42.4-megapixel sensor, 5-axis image stabilization and 12 fps RAW burst speeds. It’s not messing around with video either, as the A99 II does 4K at 4:2:2 quality and, provided you use the cropped Super-35 mode, no pixel-binning. Sony’s lineup has few weaknesses, except perhaps one: Its full-frame lens selection is limited and expensive.

Finally, there’s Fujifilm, which created the most Photokina buzz with its GFX 50S medium-format model. Due early next year, the 50.4-megapixel camera is the first in a brand-new system. It was launched with three new lenses, each capable of resolving at least 100 megapixels. The company told Engadget that its X-series models already stand up against rivals’ full-frame cameras, so it wanted to jump the category altogether.

Fujifilm packed the sensor into a relatively compact DSLR-size body. It’s not going to be cheap — less than $10,000 was all that the company would say. But it instantly becomes a top choice for medium-format photographers considering Pentax, Hasselblad or Phase One. It could even take a bite out of Nikon and Canon’s high-end DSLR market for fashion, architectural and other photographers who want as big a sensor as possible.

My takeaway from Photokina 2016 is that we’re living in a golden age of high-end digital cameras — a boon for consumers. Things are less warm and fuzzy for manufacturers, however. If overall sales continue to decline, Darwinism could take its toll on brands that don’t innovate fast enough. I’m looking at you, Canon and Nikon.

We’re live all week from Cologne, Germany, for Photokina 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.


Here’s our first look at Panasonic’s video-centric GH5

Panasonic held it’s Photokina 2016 press conference today and finally spilled the beans on the 4K GH5, the successor to its popular GH4. The big news was 10-bit 4K capture at up to 60 fps, and even up to 6K — but only for short photo bursts. We also tried out Panasonic’s G85, a 4K mirrorless camera for videographers who may not want to splash out for the high-end GH4 or GH5. Finally, there’s the LX10, a formidable 4K compact camera that challenges Sony’s RX100 IV.

Yes, there’s a theme here — 4K video now defines Panasonic’s lineup from compact to mirrorless flagship.

We’re live all week from Cologne, Germany, for Photokina 2016. Click here to catch up on all the news from the show.


Panasonic rolls out the 4K, full-metal LX10 compact camera

Today, Panasonic is celebrating the 15th anniversary of its Lumix series with a new camera, the LX10. This compact shooter, which the company says is designed to fit in most jean pockets, features a 1-inch, 20.1-megapixel sensor and 24-75mm f/1.4-2.8 fixed Leica lens. The LX10 has a full metal body, giving it a premium look that you don’t often see in other $700 cameras. Of course, being a Panasonic product, it shoots 4K video at 24, 25 and 30 fps.

In addition to the LX10, Panasonic’s introducing the Lumix FZ2500, a bulky DSLR-like camera with a 20-megapixel sensor (also 1-inch) and a 20-48mm, 20x zoom Leica lens. Like its sibling LX10, the FZ2500 captures 4K as well, although it does so in both cinematic resolution (4,096 x 2,160) and UHD (3,840 x 2,160).

According to Panasonic, the LX10 isn’t replacing the LX100 from 2014, noting that the priority with the latest was to have a bigger sensor. On the other hand, the FZ2500 could appeal to many videographers — although its fixed lens is certainly a limitation. Still, it’s better specced than, say, Sony’s RX100 IV.

The LX10 is set to hit stores in November for $699, while the FZ2500 will arrive in December for $1,200.


Panasonic targets budget 4K videographers with the Lumix G85

Video shooters were excited about Panasonic’s Lumix G7 camera when it launched last year as an $800 alternative to the lovely, but pricey GH4. Just over a year later, the company has launched a successor, the G85. Like the last model, it captures 4K video, has an OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF), a 16-megapixel sensor and a tilt-and-swivel screen. The big change is a new shutter that cuts vibration 90 percent, along with a 5-axis optical image stabilizer that further reduces the odds of blurry photos or shaky video.

The design mirrors the previous model’s DSLR-like look, with a chunky handle and similar button placement. However, it looks a touch more compact than the G7 with fewer sharp angles. As before, it has dust- and splash-proof construction, a 3-inch 1,040K-dot free-angle LED screen, a 2,360K dot EVF and max 25,600 maximum ISO. The contrast AF system can focus in .07 seconds, allowing burst capture up to 9 fps.

If you’ve already got a Lumix G7, the G85 probably isn’t different enough to justify an upgrade. However, folks who were looking to buy a G7 will probably want the new model now instead, since it has a better shutter and 5-axis OIS.

The camera is arguably aimed less at photographers than videographers. Those folks can shoot at 4K with 30fps (either in 8-bit 4:2:0 to a high-speed memory card, or 8-bit 4:2:2 to an external recorder via the real-time HDMI output), or 60fps in 1080p. All video modes have full time, continuous autofocus. Like the G7, the G85 has a 3.5mm microphone input, but no headphone output, unfortunately.

Panasonic has tried to make its 4K video useful for still photographers, with several 4K Photo modes. The function lets you shoot 4K, 8-megapixel images at 30fps for five seconds, giving you a wider choice of potential images. By stacking the images, you can also use the “post-focus” feature to select a different focal point after you’re taken the image, or change the depth of field.

If you’ve already got a Lumix G7, the G85 probably isn’t different enough to justify an upgrade. However, folks who were looking to buy a G7 will probably want the new model now instead, since it has a better shutter and 5-axis OIS. It’ll arrive in October for $900 (body only) and $1,000 with a 12-60mm lens.


Panasonic’s GH5 arrives in mid-2017 with 6K video capture

As expected, Panasonic has unveiled its much-anticipated successor to the Lumix GH4, the GH5, and the focus is once again on video. The flagship model, set to arrive in mid-2017, ups the video capture capability to 6K at 30fps and brings 10-bit, 60fps shooting at 4K. 6K capture may sound like overkill, but it’ll give filmmakers more options in terms of reframing, and allow for a better final 4K image. The GH5 will also be much better for slo-mo shots compared to the last model, which topped out at 30fps. At the same time, 10-bit capability will let professional videographers capture billions instead of millions of colors, giving far more latitude for color correction.

The camera will pack Panasonic’s new 18-megapixel sensor, which supports up to 8fps in regular burst mode, or up to 60fps in Panasonic’s “4K Photo” mode. The company also plans to add 8K, 32-megapixel capture to future models in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. We don’t know a lot else about the GH5, since we’ve only seen an early prototype, and it’s not set to go on sale until the middle of next year. However, 6K capture and 10-bit video are huge additions, and should put the camera at the top of the list for videographers looking for new gear in 2017.


Technics’ pricey SL-1200G turntable goes on sale this month

At IFA last year, Panasonic announced that it was reviving the iconic Technics brand with new turntables. After releasing a super limited special edition earlier this year, the company announced at IFA 2016 that the updated SL-1200G would arrive this month. What Hi-Fi reports that the new version is nearly identical to the SL-1200GAE that sold out in about a month, save for some design changes to the platter and the tone arm.

While there will be more than 1,200 of the SL-1200G available to masses, this turntable won’t be any cheaper than that special edition. With a price tag of £2799 (about $3,740, no word on exact US pricing yet), you’ll likely need to give some serious thought to nabbing one before September is up.


Source: What Hi-Fi


Sony and Panasonic partner to sell 8K TVs by 2020

NHK boldly declared it would broadcast the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 8K (also called Super Hi-Vision), but that’s just four years away now and the grand total of 8K TVs on the market is … one. To get things jump-started, the Japanese broadcaster has teamed up with Sony and Panasonic to develop the tech necessary to get more sets on the market, according to Nikkei.

8K requires four times the bandwidth of 4K video, so the group must build new types of streaming and compression technology. Sony and Panasonic, which both have pro video divisions, will also help NHK develop cameras and other broadcast products. For consumers, the benefit will be ultra-realistic video with more resolution than even most theaters can deliver. However, there’s barely any content for 4K, let alone 8K, so jumping to a higher resolution will be a hard sell.

NHK broadcast a small amount of 8K content from the Rio games in Japan. Since Sharp is the only company that sells an 8K set (an 85-inch, $130,000 model), the only way for fans to see it was on public viewing stations. However, Both Sony and Panasonic plan to roll out 8K sets in time for the 2020 Tokyo games. By forming an all-Japanese consortium, they hope to gain back some prestige and market share lost to Asian competitors like Samsung, LG, TCL and Vizio in the 4K market.

Via: The Verge

Source: Nikkei


The best microwave

By Tim Heffernan

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best things for your home. Read the full article here.

There is no perfect microwave oven, but after two hands-on trials, 75 hours of research, and years of ownership by several Sweethome editors, we’ve concluded that GE microwaves come darn close to the ideal. Our top pick, the countertop model JES1656SRSS, offers all the GE features we’ve come to love.

How we tested

The GE, like all microwaves, concentrates heating in the center of the platter, but it also delivers even heating out to the perimeter. Photo: Michael Hession

First, we created a “heat map” for the microwaves we tested by completely covering each one’s platter with parchment paper and a layer of plain mini marshmallows, and nuked them on high until the marshmallows began to brown. Microwave ovens don’t actually deliver heat to a food item, the way a conventional oven does (via heated air); they work by using microwave energy to cause the water and other simple molecules in food to rapidly vibrate, which generates internal friction at the molecular level, heating the food from within. But the microwaves aren’t delivered evenly, the way heated air in a conventional oven is. Our test showed whether all parts of the microwave got equal treatment.

Next, we “baked” potatoes in the GE and a Panasonic. Baking a potato in a conventional oven takes upwards of an hour, whereas by virtue of that internal steaming, a microwave can cook a family’s worth of large russet potatoes in under 5 minutes; you lose the crispy skin but gain far more in convenience. We followed manufacturer instructions to the letter for this test, cooking a single potato in each oven on each unit’s automatic setting. By luck, both potatoes were precisely the same size: 7.94 ounces, weighed on our favorite kitchen scale; and the GE and Panasonic took nearly the same time to cook them—between 3½ and 4 minutes. When the cooking ended, we cut each potato open and tested for doneness.

Next we attempted to defrost a pack of frozen ground beef—and again, by luck we had test items of absolutely identical size, 1.31 pounds. As with the potatoes, we used the automatic function (the defrost setting, inputting the approximate weight). Here, the GE and Panasonic differed considerably, the former settling on about 11 minutes and the latter about 6 minutes for the same task. Both units gave prompts every few minutes to flip the meat, which we did. When the time was up, we cut apart each block of meat with a fork to test for evenness and completeness of defrosting.

Finally, we made popcorn—basic Orville Redenbacher. Once again, we cooked them using each unit’s automatic setting. We opened each bag of popcorn and smelled, looked, and tasted for doneness versus burntness, then carefully sifted the popped kernels from the unpopped before weighing the latter down to the gram.

Our pick

The GE has just about everything you want in a microwave: performance, compactness, and easy-to-use controls. Photo: Michael Hession

The GE JES1656SRSS is our pick for a countertop microwave. It can do a lot of basic, diverse, often-repeated jobs—like reheating a single bowl of soup or “baking” potatoes for a family of four—with the touch of one of its task-specific preset buttons. It also lets you manually set cooking times and power levels with the push of a button or two—basically, it nukes food as easily as flipping a switch—and being honest, that’s how most of us use microwaves. Moreover, it does these tasks well, many of them outright superbly, thanks to a combination of solid hardware and well-engineered software that delivers its ample power efficiently and effectively. But where this microwave—like all GE microwaves—sets itself apart is in its easy, intuitive operation. How intuitive? Wirecutter executive editor Mike Berk has used it happily for over a month, as a replacement for a Sharp, and has never looked at the manual. Neither have I, and I’ve owned and used a fancy-pants GE Profile microwave for nearly three years.

An over-the-range pick

The over-the-range option saves counter space and can help with ventilation.

Over-the-range (OTR) microwaves save counter space, but are an upgrade in terms of complexity (and permanence) of installation, and usually cost more—in this case, currently about $150 higher than our main countertop pick. (Even if otherwise identical to a countertop model, an OTR will always feature a ventilation fan, and that alone adds to the manufacturing cost.) The GE JVM6175SFSS is very similar to our main pick on most specs, albeit slightly less powerful at 1,000 watts (versus 1,150). It has the same terrific, plainly labeled, intuitive interface. Its 300-cubic-feet-per-minute vent fan is not the most powerful (higher-end models generally offer 400 cfm or more), but it will quickly clear most kitchen disasters short of a full-on fire. And with a current suggested price of $330 (for the stainless model; painted models are $50 less) it’s a quality machine at an attractive price.

Minimal size, minimal cost

A smaller option—at 0.7 cubic feet—and a lower price than our main pick.

At 0.7 cubic feet (less than half the volume of our main pick) and with a countertop footprint of 10 inches tall by 13 inches deep by 18 inches wide, the GE JES1072SHSS is small in every respect except performance. It gets tremendous reviews from owners—4.8 stars (out of five) across 50 Home Depot reviews—and, just as important, has the same simple user interface as our main pick. It lacks some of the advanced features, and with a 12-by-12-inch cooking chamber, it can’t handle a big casserole pan if you’re feeding a crowd. But for small families or single users, and for basic reheating and cooking tasks, it’s a top value.

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

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